Iraq and Syria – Flooding Hits Syria Refugee Camps, Displaces Thousands Near Tigris River in Iraq

With the death toll still mounting from flash flooding in Afghanistan and Iran, the UN and relief agencies report that flooding has also affected thousands across parts of Iraq and Syria over the last 10 days.


In Syria, flooding has affected northern areas, including relief camps in Idlib Province and areas of Al-Hasakah Governorate, where media report that 2 people have died.

According to the relief agency Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), over 6,500 families were affected as flooding hit refugee camps in Northern Syria between 29 to 31 March, 2019.

Tents were swept away, and personal belongings were destroyed by the torrential rainfall. Many families were displaced again in search of a safe, dry place to live. The area was already overcrowded due to a recent influx of people escaping areas under bombardment.

The Atma Camp in Idlib Province was the most affected; over 40% of the area was swept away. Thousands have lost everything. Exposure to illness has increased in the region.

Dr. Hussam Al Fakir, Chairman of UOSSM International said, “The flooding this season has been terrible and combined with the overcrowding in the camps, is making a bad situation much worse. Many have lost what few personal possessions they had. These camps were meant to be temporary housing and lack what is needed for this climate. Thousands are in need of tents, blankets and ways to keep warm. We call on the international community to stand with these people and provide immediate humanitarian aid, assistance and necessities to those affected.”


Meanwhile the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reports that heavy seasonal rains caused flooding and damage in several governorates of Iraq over the last few days.

Heavy storms continually recurred throughout the country during the period from 24 March to 02 April, 2019, when severe weather finally eased. The effects of the storms were recorded in multiple governorates, including Anbar, Basra, Dahuk, Diyala, Kirkuk, Missan, Muthanna, Ninewa, Salah al-Din, Sulaymaniyah, and Wassit; however, the harshest impacts appeared to be in central and northern governorates, primarily regions through which the Tigris River runs, and those areas adjacent to Iran.

No fatalities have been reported, although at least 1,173 families have been displaced and around 12,000 affected. UNOCHA says that the critical areas are in Salah al-Din (Saladin) governorate, in Baiji, Samarra, Al and Tikrit districts.

According to UNOCHA, flooding in Mosul (Ninewa governorate), caused the closure of five main bridges (Alnasr, Alhurriyya, Qanatir, Suwais and Qayyarah). However municipal authorities gave assurances on 02 April, 2019, that the Mosul Dam—Iraq’s largest, which supplies hydroelectric power to Mosul city—was functioning normally.

Other dams throughout Iraq, particularly in Diyala governorate, were operating at or near capacity; however, provincial leadership expressed confidence that standard discharge and overflow functions would suffice to meet any surplus.